“Mommy, I had a bad dream.”
This nightly occurrence sometimes leaves me exasperated. My children know that if they tell me they’ve had a bad dream I will usually ignore the fact that they’re out of bed. Again. Occasionally I know that they are just faking it…because it’s hard to have a nightmare if you haven’t actually fallen asleep yet.
The problem is that I had nightmares as a child, the remembrance of which causes me to be more lenient than I should be. So although I’m not sure if this is an actual bad dream occurrence or just another ploy to stay up later, I sit on my daughter’s bed and talk with her. She wants to sleep in my bed, but lack of sleep due to her nursing brother prompts me to stay firm about her remaining on her own. Our bed time routine includes prayers for “sweet dreams, and not bad dreams,” but tonight she needs more.
As a Christian parent I try to impress on my children the character of God. I want them to know that He is our Protector, our Provider and our Help in times of need. Instinctually they seem to know that they can turn to Mom and Dad for these things, but we want to point them to One more capable than ourselves.
Explaining theology to a 4-year-old is not easy.
“Cora, God is big and when you’re feeling scared or worried you can pray to Him and ask Him to help you.”
“Is He as big as you and Daddy?”
“Yes, He’s bigger than Mommy and Daddy. We ask Him to protect us when we’re feeling afraid. He’s bigger than the whole world. He made the world.”
After I left her room — having sung “Jesus Loves Me,” prayed and kissed her good-night — I started thinking about what I’d just told my daughter.
Do I really believe that God is bigger than me?
There are times when I wrestle the reins of my life back from Him. Times when I act like I know better and if He’d just step aside and let me lead I’d get us where we need to be faster.
I allow my fears — my nightmares of physical, financial, emotional and relational need — to overwhelm me. I should stand firm in the knowledge that He is greater, yet there are moments where panic takes over. I fear for my children and their future as they’re beginning to venture out into the world on their own.
Instead of just listening to His voice and obeying His commands, I flail around looking for the answer I want to find. Am I treating God like He’s the Almighty Creator of the Universe or am I acting like He’s a vending machine for my dreams and desires? Do I live my life in such a way that my children see God as big and powerful or is He the same as a character on one of their cartoon shows?
O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Deuteronomy 3:24
Moses, like a parent, was responsible for teaching Joshua about the character of God and how to relate to Him. In Deuteronomy 3 Moses is handing over the leadership of the nation of Israel to Joshua. God had told Moses that he was not allowed to cross into the Promised Land and so Joshua was the hope for their future.
Eight times in the first nine verses of Joshua 1 God exhorts Joshua to be courageous. Obviously Joshua was a little nervous about stepping into Moses’ shoes.
Moses knew God’s greatness because he had seen the miraculous events that accompanied their time in the wilderness. He had full confidence in God’s ability to protect and provide for the Israelites after his departure. He saw that God was bigger than himself.
For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. 1 Corinthians 4:20
My words are pointless if my actions don’t support them. I can explain to my children that God is powerful, that He is our refuge and fortress, but unless I show them I believe that in how I live my life it is meaningless.
Are you turning to God with your bad dreams?